November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

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November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby clong » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:33 am

So get reading already :whip:


I Am Legend
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby MidasKnight » Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:51 am

I regret to inform you all that I have not even purchased the book yet. Therefore, I will not likely be participating in the discussion. I fully intended to, but just never got to a bookstore or library.

I know. I suck. :(
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby clong » Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:21 am

MidasKnight wrote:Therefore, I will not likely be participating in the discussion.


We will miss you :cry: but we can't expect everyone to make every book :wink:

On the plus side, it's really short (I found one estimate that it is only about 52,000 words or so--many soures call it a novella rather than a novel) so you might get through it quite quickly if you do eventually get your hands on it.
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby MidasKnight » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:16 pm

False alarm. I just got the book and read 40 pages waiting for my van to get serviced. There are only 170ish pages so maybe I'll be ready!
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby Algot Runeman » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:20 pm

I'll be there, but not quite yet. I just got it from the library and am furiously reading...I'm furious that I'm late.

Maybe I should give a couple first impressions. Then final reactions when I finish.

The book was written in the early 1950s and it is set in the 1970s. So far, there are a couple of time-bound things which date the book. Matheson does not attempt to be a science futurist. Neville, the main character is driving a Willys station wagon. It has a push button for the starter (though a few cars now have that again...why?) and it has a throttle; only my snow blower has a throttle these days. Neville also needed to wind his watch. Does any modern watch need that? These elements don't bother me, but then, I was an eight-year-old when the book was published, so I remember the Willys and watch stems we needed to wind. I'm liking the good use of language, too.
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby clong » Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:38 am

You are right, Algot, there are clearly dated elements to this book. But like you, these elements didn't bother me.

I liked this book just as much the second time around as I had the first. I liked the simplicity of the plot (which I think gives it more the feel of a novella than a novel, even if the word count qualifies it as a novel). I liked the fact that he tries to understand what has happened and to use science to look for solutions. And I especially liked the ending on several levels. :mrgreen:
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby Algot Runeman » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:10 am

clong wrote:understand what has happened and to use science to look for solutions.


There was a conflict for me with the science. Neville started as a non-scientist, I think. Everything he did to study the bacteria was self taught. It almost seemed that he felt that the germ theory was in question. In the 1950s Pasteur and other germ pioneers were 100 years in the past. I think that kept the book from fitting well into the genre of science fiction. But, my memory of the classification of Matheson's work was that it fit more commonly into horror than science fiction. I am Legend certainly has elements of science fiction. Set 20 years in Matheson's future, it follows a barely acknowledged war (atomic?) which caused mutation in bugs (and mutation certainly plays into the ending).

Matheson uses a spare writing technique, not elaborating on events that Robert Neville takes for granted. I felt both a bit frustrated, and impressed. Matheson left much to my imagination. How many humans were killed during the war? Was the population concentrated in a few states? Did the radiation which caused the bugs to mutate also work to change the impact of the vampire germ on humans? Without being up front about it, was this a cautionary tale about the dangers of atomic warfare? Atomic war was a big topic in the 50s.

Like clong, I found the ending to be satisfying, even if there wasn't a "happy" ending. Maybe there actually was a sense of hope. Even if ordinary humanity was dead, there was a post-human species prepared to struggle for existence.
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby clong » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:24 pm

Algot Runeman wrote:
clong wrote:understand what has happened and to use science to look for solutions.


There was a conflict for me with the science. Neville started as a non-scientist, I think. Everything he did to study the bacteria was self taught. It almost seemed that he felt that the germ theory was in question. In the 1950s Pasteur and other germ pioneers were 100 years in the past. I think that kept the book from fitting well into the genre of science fiction. But, my memory of the classification of Matheson's work was that it fit more commonly into horror than science fiction. I am Legend certainly has elements of science fiction. Set 20 years in Matheson's future, it follows a barely acknowledged war (atomic?) which caused mutation in bugs (and mutation certainly plays into the ending).


I liked exactly this. Rather than scientist as hero(as you often see in science fiction of that era), we get an everyman confronted by the inexplicable who tries to teach himself how to understand.
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby Algot Runeman » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:57 pm

The coincidence factor has struck again!

Here' an image of a Tweet that just came to me.

Image

The article referenced is here: http://io9.com/5855404/vampire-bacteria-could-become-the-ultimate-antibiotic

Sometimes a coincidence is based on something more or less common, but reading I am Legend and the same day, coming across this...too much!
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby MidasKnight » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:11 am

I kept thinking how people must have HATED the movie since it mostly just keeps the basic premise and nothing else.

I thought it read well despite my having to fairly consistently reference Webster's.

I found his scientific efforts to be less believable than the idea of vampires. I mean, what layman can actually learn a profession just through books? That, to me, is fantasy, not sci fi.

I sympathized with Neville so I cannot say that I liked the ending. I had not thought of it as an evolution or a new beginning as clong and Algot seemed to do. I merely felt it was depressing. I'm not sure I understand the title unless it is that the tables have turned and the vampires are afraid of him now ... aka ... he's the legend?

It is entirely possible that I am merely obtuse.
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby MidasKnight » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:33 pm

... and another thing...

The whole idea of a new culture of 'alive' vampires seemed to be quite sudden. I mean, I realize Neville was isolated for 3 or 4 years but it still seemed contrived and rushed.
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Re: November 2011 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby clong » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:08 pm

MidasKnight wrote:I found his scientific efforts to be less believable than the idea of vampires. I mean, what layman can actually learn a profession just through books? That, to me, is fantasy, not sci fi.
I don't think that Matheson is suggesting that Neville became an expert (and in fact we don't really even know if his theories are right). Again, I like the idea that you might pick up a biology 101 textbook and read it and think about it and try to develop a plan of action from it. I find that a much improved course of action over just getting drunk waiting for death.

I'm not sure I understand the title unless it is that the tables have turned and the vampires are afraid of him now ... aka ... he's the legend?
Yes I think this is it. Future generations of eventually civilized next gen humans will talk about the monster that haunted the first generation that tried to rebuild after the plague. And scare their children with the idea that another such monster will get them if they don't behave. Or something like that. One species' monster is another species just trying to survive.

The whole idea of a new culture of 'alive' vampires seemed to be quite sudden. I mean, I realize Neville was isolated for 3 or 4 years but it still seemed contrived and rushed
But he did make this distinction between the living and the undead throughout the book...It is only at the end that you understand the implication.
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November 2011 I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Postby Lenphics » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:24 pm

Depending on prices it could be good. Thought was it might give more established names. Of course the 08 RC class seeems to be the superior of the two so far.. Just LMK.
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